Secrets, lies and illusions run rampant in our world and in The Black Watchmen, it is your duty to uncover the truth and protect the world’s unsuspecting citizens. Developed by Alice & Smith as the first Permanent Alternate Reality Game (PARG), The Black Watchmen blurs the line between the virtual world and your own world. This isn’t just a game, this is now your reality.
The Black Watchmen is available for purchase on Steam for $14.99.
In The Black Watchmen, you’re tapped to become a spy for a global clandestine organization bent on protecting the unsuspecting public from dangerous and mysterious phenomena. The organization you are about to join explores the weird, gross, and dangerous realms of our world and intertwines it with the virtual world developed by Alice & Smith. Investigating secret societies, human experimentation, and ritualistic events, you follow leads and clues to uncover the truth and protect the world from powers “beyond government control”.
In Season One, your skills are put to the test. You are a rookie recruit being tested by the agency to determine your ability to succeed as a Watchmen. Discretion, strength and efficiency are the values of every Watchmen and the Agency is testing you for these qualities. You train in the areas of decoding, hacking, audio/image and manipulation, while cultivating your investigative skills.
In Season Two: Enduring Conflict, you are now a veteran agent and can apply your cultivated skills to the mission dubbed the “Abyss Incident”. In the beginning, you are sent back to re-train and learn more research skills relevant to your new missions and are thrust into all new puzzles. In this season, you battle against rival groups and take on occult phenomena. It is also said that this season brings players more opportunities for live interaction.
The Black Watchmen is not a game that you simply play. It takes over your life, and brings the game into your world. It takes the past, present, and future to create a realm that traverses the digital world and intertwines with the real one. Aside from the interface on Steam, the virtual world is extended through real-world web pages, social media, newspapers, phone calls, and text messages. You must use your knowledge of the real world and those gained through training to navigate your own world and solve the clues to complete each mission. A vast majority of your time is not spent in the game itself, but outside in the real world, working to find evidence, clues, and leads.
The game currently has two seasons and when each was released, only a certain number of missions were available. You then play together with the rest of the recruits as new missions are released every couple of weeks. Each mission begins with a video briefing, which describes your mission and its impact in a creepily convincing manner. For example, a brief could show a vide of a child playing in the field that is abruptly disrupted by something that threatens the child’s safety. Then, you are transported to your mission details where you learn about the mission and any relevant information to help solve it. There is an archive located on the internet which you pull from in order to see any evidence related to your current mission. This evidence can be a phone call, letters, blueprints, etc. You must then use your skills to decode the message or figure out the puzzle to find a solution.
This game is not for the faint of heart. You will experience many strange and sometimes unnerving scenes and situations. It is also not for the puzzle-challenged. Although the game gives you clues, you have the entire world from which to draw you answer from. Your answer could be located within the evidence presented to you, or it could be found from a Google search, Facebook stalking, or ordering supplies from a company website.
As you complete missions and progress through the game, you increase your rank and clearance level. This opens the door for more missions and the ability to harvest different skills from hacking to decoding to surveillance. If you’re stuck on a mission and can’t advance forward, you can take advantage of the game's player community. The game is highly collaborative and provides an interface to talk to other players. During gameplay, you can “Call for Help” to request assistance from other players. When you play the game, you “step into darkness, but you do not walk alone”. All your fellow Watchmen are pursuing the same common goal, and therefore you all must work together to achieve it.
The best part of The Black Watchmen is that you determine your amount of involvement and level of engagement. The developers also run live events which further integrate players’ worlds into the game. There have been 18 live events to date in cities all over the world. These challenges require players to go out into the world and gather information for the Agency, to include chasing down suspects, avoiding kidnapping, and taking surveillance photos.
GRAPHICS AND AUDIO
The design of the game embraces the essence of a clandestine service. When you turn the game on, you sign in just like signing into a classified computer system. Once your credentials are validated, you are transported to the Mission Hub, where you check on your status and accept your next mission. The graphics are very simple, reflecting a futuristic atmosphere, but all add to the illusion that you are working from your home for a clandestine service. The briefing videos are very realistic and the audio is creepy and engaging, making you work harder towards your mission.
Discretion, strength, and efficiency. That’s what it takes to become a Black Watchmen. Throughout the game, each of these values are tested to determine your qualifications and determination to be a Watchmen. If you are one for mystery and adventure, you will absolutely love this game. It is more than just a game. It is a reality that immerses you into the world of the Black Watchmen at all levels. However, if you’re paranoid, or have a fear of the unknown, you may want to avoid this game as it digs deep into the world of the unknown and brings it to life in your everyday reality.
|+ Intertwines reality with the digital world||– No subtitles during beginning of briefing videos|
|+ Highly intellectual puzzles that require research||– Sometimes input for solutions are strict|
|+ Totally immersive environment|
|+ Ability to set your engagement level|